By S.D. Peters
The Whiskey Reviewer’s Jake Emen reviewed the Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey from Michigan’s Journeyman Distillery in September, so I’ll refer readers who want to learn about the distillery’s general details to his review.
As for Journeyman’s W.R. Whiskey, it is a handmade, organic white whiskey that the distillery has “dedicated to the original journeymen.” And although it’s named in tribute to the distiller’s grandfather and father, the “W.R.” could stand for “White Rye” too: it’s the unaged version of the distillery’s Ravenswood Rye expression.
W.R. Whiskey comes in a clear, unpretentious bottle bearing a grainy label with original artwork by Julia Haw: a monogram of triple W’s that lends it the aura of a Guild product. Each bottle is individually numbered by batch and bottle, and my tasting is bottle 112 of batch 18.
W.R. Whiskey, like Journeyman’s other products, is certified organic. The mashbill is identical to Journeyman’s Ravenswood Rye, making it a strong wheated rye. Aged for less than 24 hours in white oak, it is then bottled at 90 Proof (45% ABV), and has the clear, refreshing look that’s common to white whiskeys.
An immediate graininess fills the nose; mixed with a crisp scent of stone-splashed spring water, the grain takes on its essence – rye – and reveals a refreshing dash of grapefruit and a dollop of creamy wheat.
The palate is full for a white whiskey, but the rye grain is subdued by a creamy blend of minty caramel. How one’s taste might judge that depends on what one seeks in a white whiskey: to me, the near-absence of rye grain flavor (it appears briefly going into the finish) is a bit disappointing. I suspect the high wheat content is responsible.
The velvety texture and predominate flavors liken it to a flavored whiskey – which it isn’t. That a white whiskey can create such a sensation naturally is, however, somewhat astounding, and it’s that accomplishment (coupled with the excellent nose) that edges W.R. Whiskey into the upper-average range.
The finish is very soft and lingers a while, but also lacks a grainy flavor. Predominately it tastes of pine, which is not usually a bad thing if you also happen to like Gin. Unfortunately, in this case, the “pine” strays a little too close to the flavor of standard formula Listerine.
The caveat, for me, is the wheat in W.R. Whiskey. Some folks may like it, and some, like me, may find it off-putting. If you’ve tried a wheated white whiskey like Death’s Door and enjoyed it, then you may find W.R. Whiskey to be an interesting journey.
A search online will turn up several online retailers who sell W.R. Whiskey. It is also sold by selected distributors in California, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. (Which is to say, its availability is expanding.) Expect to pay between $30-40.